NIOSH Releases Probe of '20 Fatal Incident at Mount Holly Springs, PA

May 7, 2024
Citizen's Fire Co. Firefighter Jerome Guise, 34, was killed when a porch roof collapsed on him at a house fire in 2020.

On March 9, 2020, a Pennsylvania firefighter was killed when a porch collapsed on him.

Citizen's Fire Company Firefighter Jerome Guise, 34, was pronounced dead at the scene after he was struck and pinned by heavy timbers. 

Investigators with NIOSH determined that a chief, after hearing a noise, heard a noise in the front yard, walked to Side Alpha. He noticed the porch roof had collapsed and saw a handline sticking out. He immediately called a Mayday at 1:44 a.m. for a firefighter down.

"The porch roof was made of heavy timber and could not be lifted by hand. The columns supporting the porch roof were made of powdered aluminum. The fire caused the columns to melt and split, which led to the columns failing. Firefighters immediately started removing debris and putting the fire out around the front porch to locate the trapped firefighter," according to the report. 

Some crawled under the debris and located his hand. He was pulled out at 1:56 in cardiac arrest. Despite resuscitate efforts, he was pronounced dead at 2:20 a.m.

Following an investigation, NIOSH officials have determined several factors that contributed to the incident.

Also included in the report are a number of recommendations.

  • Fire departments should ensure the strategy and incident action plan, based upon the scene size-up and risk assessment, are communicated to all responding resources by the first arriving fire department resource. This includes communicating any hazard zones and defined collapse zones or exclusion zones at defensive fires
  • Fire departments should ensure that company officers and firefighters maintain crew integrity during fireground operations
  • Fire departments should ensure that all members utilize the principles of operational risk management at all incidents
  • Fire departments should ensure that firefighters are trained to understand building performance under fire conditions and the potential for structural collapse
  • Fire departments should train fire officers and firefighters on the principles of situational awareness
  • Fire departments should ensure that incident commanders incorporate command safety into the incident management system during fireground operations
  • Fire departments should ensure that all companies are operating based upon the assignment given by the incident commander. The Task-Location-Objective assignments should be communicated over the radio
  • Fire departments should review their personnel accountability system standard operating procedure
    (SOP)/standard operating guideline (SOG) to ensure that accountability is maintained at each operational level
  • Fire departments should provide a Mayday tactical worksheet for incident commanders in the event of a Mayday
  • Fire departments should require all members engaged in fireground operations participate in annual proficiency training and evaluation. This verifies essential qualifications and competencies of its members to operate on the fireground.


About the Author

Susan Nicol | News Editor

Susan Nicol is the news editor for She is a life member and active with the Brunswick Volunteer Ambulance & Rescue Company, Oxford Fire Company and Brunswick Vol. Fire Co. Susie has been an EMT in Maryland since 1976. Susie is vice-president of the Frederick County Fire/Rescue Museum. She is on the executive committee of Frederick County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association. She also is part of the Maryland Institute for Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS) Region II EMS Council. Susie is a board member of the American Trauma Society, Maryland Division. Prior to joining the Firehouse team, she was a staff writer for The Frederick News-Post, covering fire, law enforcement, court and legislative issues. 

Voice Your Opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of Firehouse, create an account today!